People v. Sienkiewicz

Citation208 Ill.2d 1,802 N.E.2d 767,280 Ill.Dec. 516
Decision Date04 December 2003
Docket NumberNo. 93970.,93970.
PartiesThe PEOPLE of the State of Illinois, Appellant, v. Mariusz SIENKIEWICZ, Appellee.
CourtIllinois Supreme Court

James E. Ryan and Lisa Madigan, Attorneys General, Springfield, and Michael J. Waller, State's Attorney, Waukegan (Gary Feinerman, Solicitor General, Lisa Anne Hoffman, Mary Beth Burns and Linda D. Woloshin, Assistant Attorneys General, Chicago, and Norbert J. Goetten, Martin P. Moltz, and Catherine A. Voigt, of the Office of the State's Attorneys Appellate Prosecutor, Elgin, of counsel), for the People.

Peter C. Wachowski, of Bellas & Wachowski, Park Ridge, for appellee.

Justice KILBRIDE delivered the opinion of the court:

Defendant, who was indicted for reckless homicide (720 ILCS 5/9-3 (West 2000)), moved to dismiss the indictment, arguing that it arose from the same facts that were the basis for a previous conviction for reckless driving (625 ILCS 5/11-503 (West 2000)). The trial court denied the motion to dismiss, finding that the charges for each offense arose from separate and distinct acts committed by defendant. On appeal pursuant to Supreme Court Rule 604(f) (145 Ill.2d R. 604(f)), the appellate court reversed, holding that double jeopardy precluded the State from prosecuting the reckless homicide charge. 331 Ill.App.3d 70, 264 Ill.Dec. 876, 771 N.E.2d 580. We granted the State's petition for leave to appeal (177 Ill.2d R. 315) and now affirm.

BACKGROUND

On July 16, 2000, while on his motorcycle, defendant collided with another vehicle on the off-ramp from Interstate 94 into Gurnee, Illinois. Defendant's passenger, Anna Jaruga, suffered head injuries and died. Defendant received a traffic citation for reckless driving. According to the ticket, defendant's violation consisted of "improper stopping in traffic, failure to signal when required, improper lane usage, [and] traveling at 80 m.p.h. plus in a 55 m.p.h. zone." The ticket described the location of the offense as northbound Interstate 94 between mile markers 61 and 70. Defendant subsequently pleaded guilty to reckless driving and was sentenced to six months' probation and fined $250.

On September 6, 2000, defendant was indicted for reckless homicide, stemming from the death of Jaruga. The indictment alleged that, on July 16, 2000, the defendant:

"while acting in a reckless manner, performed acts likely to cause the death of some individual, in that he operated a * * * motorcycle on the off-ramp from northbound I-94 to westbound Route 132 in Gurnee * * * at a speed which was greater than the posted speed limit and which was greater than was reasonable and proper with regard to the existing traffic conditions and the safety of persons properly upon the roadway, and he left the roadway, causing his motorcycle to strike a 1987 Ford Econoline van, thereby causing the death of Anna Jaruga, who was a passenger of said defendant's motorcycle."

Defendant moved to dismiss the indictment on double jeopardy grounds, arguing that the charge arose from the same facts that were the basis of his reckless driving conviction. Defendant also argued that the State should be estopped from prosecuting the indictment because it had entered into a plea agreement with him on the reckless driving charge. The trial court denied the motion, rejecting both of defendant's arguments. He appealed pursuant to Rule 604(f) (188 Ill.2d R. 604(f)).

The appellate court reversed, holding that defendant's speeding was the basis for both charges and that his conduct could not be divided into separate and discrete physical acts. 331 Ill.App.3d at 74, 264 Ill.Dec. 876, 771 N.E.2d 580. Having determined that there was only a single act, the appellate court went on to conclude that reckless driving was a lesser included offense of reckless homicide for purposes of double jeopardy analysis. 331 Ill. App.3d at 76, 264 Ill.Dec. 876, 771 N.E.2d 580. The appellate court reasoned that both offenses required proof that defendant operated his vehicle in a manner that threatened the safety of others. 331 Ill. App.3d at 76, 264 Ill.Dec. 876, 771 N.E.2d 580. The only difference between the two offenses is that reckless homicide requires that a death result from the defendant's conduct, while reckless driving does not require that outcome. 331 Ill.App.3d at 76, 264 Ill.Dec. 876, 771 N.E.2d 580.

By leave of this court, the State now appeals (177 Ill.2d R. 315).

ANALYSIS

The double jeopardy clause of the fifth amendment, made applicable to the states through the fourteenth amendment, provides that no person shall "be subject for the same offence to be twice put in jeopardy of life or limb." U.S. Const., amends. V, XIV. The same protection is afforded to the citizens of this state by the Illinois Constitution. See Ill. Const. 1970, art. I, § 10. The prohibition against double jeopardy `"protects against three distinct abuses: (1) a second prosecution for the same offense after acquittal; (2) a second prosecution for the same offense after conviction; and (3) multiple punishments for the same offense.'" People v. Henry, 204 Ill.2d 267, 283, 273 Ill.Dec. 374, 789 N.E.2d 274 (2003), quoting People v. Placek, 184 Ill.2d 370, 376-77, 235 Ill.Dec. 44, 704 N.E.2d 393 (1998).

In the seminal case of Blockburger v. United States, 284 U.S. 299, 52 S.Ct. 180, 76 L.Ed. 306 (1932), the United States Supreme Court held that a state cannot prosecute a defendant in successive prosecutions for the same criminal act under different statutes unless each statute "requires proof of an additional fact which the other does not." Blockburger, 284 U.S. at 304, 52 S.Ct. at 182, 76 L.Ed, at 309. This test, sometimes referred to as the "same-elements test" or the "Blockburger test," inquires whether each offense contains an element not contained in the other; if not, they are the same offense and double jeopardy bars additional punishment and successive prosecution. United States v. Dixon, 509 U.S. 688, 696, 113 S.Ct. 2849, 2856, 125 L.Ed.2d 556, 568 (1993); Blockburger, 284 U.S. at 304, 52 S.Ct. at 182, 76 L.Ed, at 309.

Later, in Grady v. Corbin, 495 U.S. 508, 521-22, 110 S.Ct. 2084, 2093, 109 L.Ed.2d 548, 564-65 (1990), the Supreme Court adopted an additional test, the "same conduct" test, that focused on the conduct to be proven by the State, not on the elements of the offenses. This court applied the Corbin test in People v. Stefan, 146 Ill.2d 324, 336, 166 Ill.Dec. 910, 586 N.E.2d 1239 (1992). Corbin, however, was subsequently overruled in United States v. Dixon, 509 U.S. 688, 704, 113 S.Ct. 2849, 2860, 125 L.Ed.2d 556, 573 (1993). While we have not explicitly rejected the application of the Corbin test after the issuance of Dixon, we have consistently stated that we will interpret our state constitution based on the United States Supreme Court's construction of similar provisions in the federal constitution, unless the language of our provisions or the committee reports and debates of our constitutional convention demonstrate that an alternative construction was intended. People v. DiGuida, 152 Ill.2d 104, 118, 178 Ill.Dec. 80, 604 N.E.2d 336 (1992).

Here, the applicable language is similar, and, indeed, we have previously relied on Supreme Court decisions to interpret our own state double jeopardy provision. See Stefan, 146 Ill.2d at 335-36, 166 Ill.Dec. 910, 586 N.E.2d 1239. Thus, we take this opportunity to reject explicitly the Corbin test and to readopt the Blockburger same-elements test as the proper means of examining potential violations of the Illinois double jeopardy clause.

The Blockburger test emphasizes the elements of the two crimes. Brown v. Ohio, 432 U.S. 161, 166, 97 S.Ct. 2221, 2226, 53 L.Ed.2d 187, 194 (1977). If each crime requires proof of a fact not required by the other, the Blockburger test is met, and the double jeopardy prohibition is not infringed, notwithstanding a significant overlap in the proof offered to establish the crimes. Brown, 432 U.S. at 166, 97 S.Ct. at 2226, 53 L.Ed.2d at 194. Thus, under Blockburger, the prosecution of a lesser-included offense prevents a subsequent prosecution on the greater offense since, by definition, a lesser-included offense requires no proof beyond what is required for the greater offense. Brown, 432 U.S. at 167-69, 97 S.Ct. at 2226-27, 53 L.Ed.2d at 195-96. With these principles in mind, we now turn to the facts at hand.

I

Prior to applying the Blockburger test, we must decide whether defendant's reckless homicide prosecution is based on a different act than his reckless driving conviction. Under Blockburger, if the prosecutions are predicated on different criminal acts, then the prohibition against double jeopardy is not violated. See Blockburger, 284 U.S. at 304, 52 S.Ct. at 182, 76 L.Ed, at 309. If, however, there was only a single physical act, we must apply the Blockburger test to determine whether one charge is a less-included offense of the other.

Here, the State maintains that the reckless driving conviction and the reckless homicide charge at issue here were based on different acts. According to the State, the reckless driving conviction was based on improper stopping in traffic, failure to signal, improper lane usage, and traveling at more than 80 miles per hour in a 55 miles-per-hour speed zone, while the reckless homicide charge is based on leaving the roadway, striking another vehicle, and causing the death of Jaruga. Defendant counters that the basis of both the reckless driving conviction and the reckless homicide charge is a continuous course of reckless conduct between mile markers 61 and 70. Defendant argues that his conduct thus cannot be subdivided into different acts.

The appellate court agreed with defendant, reasoning, in part, that defendant's reckless conduct could not be separated into discrete physical acts because no intervening event divided the conduct into two acts. Rather, the conduct "occurred over a continuous interval of...

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